Performing Gender With Vanessa Beecroft

Italian contemporary artist Vanessa Beecroft uses performance art to challenge perceptions of gender and the female form in artistic discourse.

Beecroft, who is now based in Los Angeles, is known for her large scale conceptual performances. ‘B61, Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf?’, her infamous piece at the 2007 Venice Biennale, saw a group of naked Sudanese women lying face down, simulating corpses. It was a scene one might expect to see on the news rather than in a gallery. The naked female form has remained a constant throughout her work: appearing in erotic sketches, “live paintings”, in her sculptures and in her work with rapper Kanye West. Her most recent exhibition at the Pio Pico gallery in Los Angeles presented a range of erotic sketches and ceramic nudes. This show saw Beecroft go back to her roots, to her days of using clay and plaster to manipulate form. The series of sculptural female heads on display allude to the problems of misrepresentation: there is not one single female experience or one ideal female body.

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